The 660-strong crowd were given a trip down memory lane as flashbacks from the 2014 Brazil World Cup threatened, but unfortunately for the wrong reasons.
There wasn’t so much tika-taka football being played, nor any silky samba skills for that matter, but instead an inexcusable act of alleged stupidity. The City faithful behind the goal were not expecting to see an apparent Luis Suarez-esque bite from Havant’s Ed Harris, and they looked shocked at what they had just witnessed.
It occurred just shy of the 20-minute mark after Joe Ward’s cross was cleared, and it stunned the ground. Michael Cheek was seen pulling Mark Haines away from the Havant centre-back as he seemed to claim that Harris sunk his teeth into his arm, prompting a punch in retaliation. Both were therefore sent-off by referee Michael George after a long period of consultation with his assistants.
The strong reaction from Haines suggests that more than a punch was thrown, but it must be stressed that it cannot be said for definite whether it was a bite or an elbow at this stage and the Club await the referees report on the incident.
To further add salt into City’s wounds, Hooper fired home midway through the first-half as the Clarets were forced to succumb to back-to-back defeats as Havant strengthened their cause for a play-off place.
After Tuesday’s midweek defeat to Hemel, City boss Mark Hawkes opted to experiment with an attack-minded 4-3-3 formation, giving Academy product Harry Morgan just his second start to the season as Lee Sawyer made way.
Michael Cheek spearheaded Chelmsford’s attack and was flanked by Joe Ward and birthday boy Rohdell Gordon after Jack Bridge’s loan from Southend ended.
It was promotion-chasing Havant who had the first attempt on goal though when Mason Spence lost the ball in the middle. Brian Stock drove forward before shooting at Lovelock from distance, although the City keeper was equal to his effort and made a routine stop.
Lovelock was then perhaps saved from picking the ball out of his own net when a combination of City defenders blocked Ben Swallow’s rasping shot following a loose ball on the edge of the area.
The moment of madness soon followed when Mark Haines and Ed Harris were both shown a straight red following a fracas in Havant’s box. Joe Ward’s cross was cleared by the Hawks’ defence when Haines and Harris were bundles to be the floor. City’s Michael Cheek acted as peacemaker after a couple of punches were thrown, leaving the referee Michael George no alternative but to give the pair their marching orders.
The match soon calmed down with City’s Mason Spence, on loan from Hayes & Yeading, having a close-range shot blocked by Ryan Young, and it proved to be a crucial save.
Within a couple of minutes Havant found themselves in front when Jonathan Hooper was played through on goal, firing past the helpless Lovelock with great power as City faced an uphill battle to get anything from this match.
Ben Swallow then almost doubled the visitor’s lead before the interval when he latched onto a short corner, forcing Lovelock into a low save.
City’s Cheek then held his head in his hands as he wasted a great chance to level. Having found the net on 23 occasions already this season you would have expected him to score, but he dragged his shot miserably wide when put through one-on-one by Mark Hughes.
And it was through Hughes that Chelmsford started the second-half quickly, volleying narrowly over from inside the area after a neat touch from Cheek.
Havant then felt aggrieved when Marvin Ekpiteta’s trailing leg appeared to catch Ben Wright after the striker cut inside, but the referee waved away the strong protests – they had a case.
Havant threatened from a couple of long distance efforts from Brian Stock and Scott Donnelly before Chelmsford created a good opportunity for themselves.
The chance involved all three Academy graduates and was a proud moment for the City fans. Harry Morgan played an outstanding ball down the wing which Ward latched onto, and he eventually set-up Sam Gregory who was unlucky as his volley dipped over the bar.
Ward and Cheek went close late on for the hosts, as did Havant's Swallow who missed missed an open goal, but they struggled to break down the Hawks who will expect to be participating in the end-of-season play-offs.
1. Tom Lovelock
2. Harry Hickford
3. Michael Toner
4. Mark Hughes (C)
5. Mark Haines
6. Marvin Ekpiteta
7. Harry Morgan
8. Joe Ward
9. Rohdell Gordon
10. Michael Cheek
11. Mason Spence
12. Evans Kouassi
14. Kabongo Tshimanga
15. Sam Gregory (On for Mason Spence, 66)
16. Leon Redwood (On for Rohdell Gordon, 73)
19. Lee Sawyer
Havant and Waterlooville:
1. Ryan Young (C)
2. Dan Strugnell
3. Warren Cummings
4. Brian Stock
5. Brian Dutton
6. Ed Harris
7. Ben Swallow
8. Scott Donnelly
9. Ben Wright
10. Jonathan Hopper
11. Josh Huggins
12. Nic Ciardini
14. Nick Awford
15. Harry Cornick (On for Ben Wright, 59)
16. Josh Carmichael (On for Scott Donnelly, 59)
17. Shamir Mullings (On for Jonathan Hopper, 34)
Referee: Mr Michael George
Assistant referees: Mr Oliver Morris-Sanders and Mr Jonathon Block
Bookings: Chelmsford City: Michael Toner (foul, 85)
Havant & Waterlooville: Ben Wright (55, unsportsmanlike conduct), Brain Dutton (64)
Sent off: Chelmsford City: Mark Haines (17, violent conduct)
Havant & Waterlooville: Ed Harris (17, violent conduct)
Scorers: Chelmsford City: None
Havant & Waterlooville: Jonathan Hooper (24)
HT Score: 0-1
City Man of the Match: Michael Toner
Views are that of the author, and not necessarily of Chelmsford City Football Club.